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On Oprah’s List of Power Players: Michelle Rhee

August 18, 2009 1 min read

by guest blogger Lesli A. Maxwell

She’s been on the cover of Time. She’s been the subject of an ongoing PBS series on leadership. She’s been hailed as a visionary leader on the editorial pages of The Washington Post and invited everywhere to talk about her plans for dramatic change in Washington’s public schools. So it was probably just a matter of time until Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools, caught the attention of Oprah, who has just published her first-ever “Power List.”

Rhee, who has now been at the helm of the D.C. schools for two years, is called a “remarkable visionary” in the O magazine Power List and is described as one of Washington’s most controversial but effective leaders. The write-up on Rhee duly notes the achievement gains that have happened on her watch, pointing out that “within her first year, the number of schools with proficiency rates below 20 percent dropped by almost half.” Of course, it’s debatable how much credit she ought to get for that first year of gains.

Now that Rhee has reached the pop culture pinnacle--Oprah is, after all, a king, err, queenmaker--will she finally be able to cut a deal with the Washington Teachers’ Union on a contract that she has pledged could be revolutionary?